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New Model Army - New Model Army

  by Helen Tipping

published: 4 / 12 / 2010

New Model Army - New Model Army


Helen Tipping finds that New Model Army's 30th anniversary box set which comes with an extensive variety of extras provokes a wide range of personal memories

To celebrate 30 years of music spanning two centuries, New Model Army have released a 30th anniversary box set of CDs, 3 DVDs, 10” art prints of Joolz’s work, a hardback book of the band’s history and other items, car stickers, and a jigsaw puzzle. Yes, that’s right, a jigsaw puzzle. I guess that no one can accuse them of taking themselves too seriously these days! Of course I only get the cut down preview version of 2 CDs and a DVD featuring live performances and videos going back to the early 1980s. Those certainly bring back some memories, not so much of New Model Army, as I didn’t see them until 1989, but certainly of the 80's zeitgeist for those of us who gravitated away from big shoulder pads and bubble perms to the more alternative sphere. So yes, anniversary box set. With my partner having ordered the full £49.95 version which hasn’t yet arrived, I can’t give my views on the ephemera and only the music related items, so this is naturally a cut down preview review. I have to admit to having attended a number of the 30th anniversary shows as well. I started with the first show in New York where I was on holiday, then Nottingham about half way through, and finally the last show in London, although only the Saturday night. So you could say that I’m fairly keen on New Model Army, and therefore you can pretty much expect not only a cut down preview review, but a biased in their favour one too. Although I did leave the buying of the box set to someone else, and I was going to New York anyway – I just changed the week to coincide with the gig. New York was a pretty good gig. The fans over there tend to be more laid back and it doesn’t get so crowded or boisterous as it does in Europe. There was plenty of room to dance and watch the band without getting crushed and the beer in the venue was fairly decent if a bit expensive, unlike here where it’s usually crap and expensive. The people were friendly. It was warm outside and cool and air conditioned inside, and, whilst it did lack that urgency and excitement that European gigs have, it certainly wasn’t an unpleasant experience and I was glad to have the opportunity to get to the front and have a dance without getting shoved around. There was plenty of time for that later. At Nottingham Ed Alleyne-Johnson showed up to play violin on 'Vagabonds', 'Purity', 'Green & Grey', 'Poison Street' and 'Betcha' which was fantastic, and on the second night Joolz, who is front man Justin Sullivan's partner, came and read during 'Space'. By the time we got to London it had snowed, and getting to the gig was fraught with difficulties such as running over the bridge at Leeds in -2 minutes and having a stinking cold that left me sat upstairs being a miserable sod rather than attempting to get anywhere near the front. I also missed the Friday night, but the Saturday night was fantastic and they played some of my favourites including 'The Hunt', 'Here Comes the War', 'Vagabonds' and 'Love Songs'. To put together the 30 tracks for the CDs the band asked previous band members and other close associates to choose their favourites to ensure that tracks are chosen from down the years. There is no previously unreleased material, but there are some new mixes and some with new mastering. The DVD meanwhile consists of pretty much any footage they have been able to get hold of – however in the boxed set there are 3 DVDs, so much more to watch. Live shows varied, and a real crowd pleaser was 'Vengeance', a song that Justin Sullivan has steadfastly refused to perform for some years now. Called out for at every gig I’ve been to, this time no one needed to, except the poor sod at Nottingham that turned up late only to be told he’d missed it. The earliest tracks on the CDs go back to 1984 – 'Liberal Education', 'Vengeance', 'Christian Militia' with the most recent being 'Mambo Queen of the Sandstone City' and 'Today Is a Good Day' from 2009. So whilst there are some that you would expect and often see live, there are also a few that you don’t get to hear too often. The taster DVD has videos and live performances – the one that stood out was 'Here Comes the War' which was made in 1993 and the clothes are hair and style of video is definitely of its time. There is also some footage of the 25th Anniversary Paris gig which was filmed, but never made it onto DVD previously. Given the price of the box set, I think this really is one for the fans. It’s available on pre-order only from their website and should be going out shortly. Just think that jigsaw puzzle will give me something to do over Christmas when the TV gets boring. I can stick on the DVD and make it up, well if I’m allowed to unwrap it that is. I mean, this could be a collector’s item that has to stay in its bag. Perhaps I should make him buy two in that case.

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New Model Army - New Model Army

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In our second interview with New Model Army, Helen Tipping chats to frontman Justin Sullivan about his band's tenth studio album, 'High', and recent line-up changes in the group
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At two shows in Leeds and Liverpool, Helen Tipping watches New Model Army play two very different shows and at the latter show to start to put in early preparation for their next and what will be their 30th anniversary tour


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